Sunday, September 2, 2012

Heat, Humidity and the Spanish Inquisition

Greetings from the Colombian port city of Cartagena. We arrived here yesterday afternoon on a short but very pleasant flight via Avianca Airlines and on first impressions we thought Cartagena was a little warm. We were wrong. Cartagena isn’t warm - it’s hot. Really hot. Malaria infested mangrove swamp hot. Wholly chaffing thigh’s Batman, I’m going to have a stroke, hot! Have I painted the picture? It’s really really humid and really really hot!
The average temperature is around 30 - 32 degrees, with 75% humidity and according to the weather network that equates to a humidax of approx 42 degrees, which is pretty damn warm no matter how cut it.

Our room is air conditioned so it’s not too bad for sleeping etc., but when we walked out this morning it was like walking into a sauna - just like someone put a hot wet blanket around your shoulders. Mmmmmm, nothing like sweating through your shirt before breakfast to make you want to get out and greet the day :-)

But greet the day we did because this city is simply too amazing to let a little heat and humidity stand in the way of exploring the old quarter. Cartagena was one of the oldest and most important port cities in the Spanish colonial empire and it was where Spain made it’s last stand in the new world. The original walled city is a designated Unesco world heritage site and wandering the streets is like stepping back in time. There are hidden plaza’s and squares around every corner, the old colonial buildings have been wonderfully preserved and the original outer wall still stand, surrounding most of the old city. It’s like a cross between Panama Viejo and Campeche with a bit of the Caribbean thrown in for good measure.

Our first stop this morning was the fort, El Castille a HUGE Spanish fort that protected the port from pirates and the threat of English invasion. It’s the largest fort the Spanish constructed and the only fort that never fell to invasion - ever. We spent two hours wandering around and through the site, inside and out, because it’s honeycombed with a series of tunnels the defenders used to move munitions and supplies from one end to the other during siege’s and the tunnels are one reason the fort never fell.

It was a fantastic sight and well worth the time but by the time we were done at 11:30 we were both close to heat stroke. We joked about it at the time but after catching a cab back to the hotel with the intent of grabbing a cold drink and heading out again to our next site seeing adventure we realized we were both ready to collapse. We were both soaked through and we’re just not used to the toll this kind of heat and humidity can take on you. So instead of heading back out, discretion played the better part of valor and instead we opted for a cold beer and a leisurely dip to cool off.

Our next trip out was to a large, beautifully preserved colonial building on the main square that now houses the museum of the inquisition. Nice guys the early Spanish catholic’s. Nothing like a little time on the rack to make you see the error of your ways. It was worth the trip though, and eventually lead us back to a different square where for $4.00 we had a large typical lunch of chicken breast, rice, salad, fried banana and a large bowl of soup, followed by, you guessed it, Siesta! My new favorite time of the day.

We’ll be here for another couple of nights and then we head north to the Caribean coastal town of Santa Marta where we’re told it’s even hotter. Yikes!

In the mean time there’s just one editorial note - in my last post I mentioned climbing the stairs of El Penol, a rock monolith 200 feet high. It’s actually 200 meters, not feet - which is close to 60 stories.

The internet connection here at this little hotel is too slow for pictures so they’ll have to wait until we’re at the next place. It’s a more modern resort type hotel and it should (knock on Colombian wood) have a better connection.

Safe and sound in Colombia

Dale and Rosi

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